HydroWorx Headed to ICAA Conference — Special Article on Bone Health

HydroWorx Headed to ICAA Conference — Special Article on Bone Health

HydroWorx is headed to the ICAA Conference next Wednesday, December 1.  In honor of the event, we’d like to share with you part three of a terrific article written by one of the knowledgeable ICAA Conference presenters.

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Splash! Healthy balance, brains & bones, part three: building bones in the pool

Compared to land-based activity, aquatic exercise has less weight-bearing impact due to water’s buoyancy. Yet water may still play an important role in a surf and turf approach to bone health

by Mary E. Sanders, PhD, FACSM, RCEP

During the 2009 ICAA Splash! preconference, we dove into current evidence on healthy balance, brains and bones, and applied the lessons learned to water exercises and games.

This year’s “Splash!” columns have brought the essence of this workshop to Journal on Active Aging® readers. Part one, published in the January/February issue, explored pool progressions that targeted balance training for better stability on land.

In the May/June issue, part two looked at snapshots of research and delved into some fun games for protective brain healthcare. This final segment will return to the pool for bone health, then mix and match objectives for a Balance, Brains and Bones Circuit workout.

Remember Millie? In part one of “Healthy balance, brains & bones,” we met this active 63-year-old who loves water exercise and horseback riding. A knee replacement had left Millie unsure of her balance, and rather than walk across the pasture to her horse, she had stopped riding. After incorporating balance and strengthening exercises into her land and water activity plan, Millie now feels more confident and stable when walking. She is still concerned, however, about taking charge of her bone health. Millie has osteopenia.

Characterized as bone mineral density that is lower than average, osteopenia may be a risk factor for osteoporosis (literally, “porous bones”), a disease where bones become weak and brittle, increasing the risk of falls or fractures. In some cases, simple stresses—such as bending over or coughing—can cause an osteoporotic fracture.

Bone is a dynamic tissue that changes as we age. During ages 25–50 years, bone tissue breaks down and reforms at about equal rates, keeping bone mass and strength relatively constant (Thompson, 2010). Accumulating bone mass early in life may provide a greater “bone bank” during adulthood, when bone loss may be greater than bone development. But it’s never too late or too early to take steps to keep bones strong and healthy throughout life.

Water’s impact on bone health

Compared to land-based activity, exercise in the pool has less weight-bearing impact due to water’s buoyancy. Yet water may still play an important role in a surf and turf approach.

For example, participants diagnosed with osteoporosis may benefit from the off-loading of water as they train other aspects of health. Water provides a safe environment, even during vigorous exercise for cardiorespiratory endurance.

The on-demand resistance (the harder you press, the harder water presses back) provides progressive concentric muscular training, while the use of resistance bands allows eccentric and isometric (unchanging muscle length) contractions to be included—even during cardio exercises.

Participants practice balance, agility, and coordination skills in the pool without fear of falling. In addition, by changing the water depth of activity, weight-bearing impact—which is important for bone health—can be progressed gradually during walking, jumping or rocking (dynamic balance) exercises. Let’s examine some water studies that can guide program design.

A bone-healthy lifestyle

Exercise for bone health is a lifetime commitment. For Millie and others, a surf and turf approach may help minimize the age-related loss of bone saved in the body’s “bone bank,” possibly preventing osteoporosis and its complications over time.

Safe, effective water activity also increases participant fitness for ADLs [activities of daily living] on land by improving skills such as agility, balance and coordination. An active lifestyle is a bone-healthy lifestyle. Time in the pool can encourage people like Millie to feel more confident being active both in, and out, of the water.

This article excerpt from the September/October 2010 issue of the Journal on Active Aging® appears here with permission. The full article by Mary Sanders is available to International Council on Active Aging® members on the association’s website, www.icaa.cc. To learn about membership and the upcoming ICAA Conference in San Diego, where HydroWorx will exhibit its products, please call ICAA toll-free at 866-335-9777 or email info@icaa.cc

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Mark your calendar! Mary Sanders and her colleague, Mary Curry, will offer a preconference workshop at the ICAA Conference. Sponsored by Vi (formerly Classic Residence by Hyatt), “Splash! Mix and match formats for a buffet of moves” will take place 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 1, 2010. For details, visit the “Conference” section of the ICAA website.

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